Bird photography dominated today. I had more time at few sites and enough time to take pictures of some local specialities: Blackstart, Shining Sunbird, White-spectacled Bulbul, Ruppel’s Weaver, Tristram’s Starling, White-breasted White-eye and a Red-necked Phalarope. So carry on if you want to see some pictures and enjoy my bird photography day.
As usual we started at 6 a.m. Getting up becomes very difficult already. Once we are up, birds keep us awake. We collected our tents and drove a km to the end of Wadi Darbat. This is quite a forested place with river along the valley and many fruiting trees. These concentrate a lot of birds at one place. Once we approached the spot we had tens of Bruce’s Green Pigeons flying around and feeding. Tristram’s Starlings had gathered at a spot making their calls. Once the sun was up the Shining Sunbirds looked even prettier when flying around the flowering plants. After a very productive photography session we carried on towards the car park. Suddenly five birds of prey were circling not very high up in the sky: two Eastern Imperial Eagle, two Short toed Eagles and a young Steppe Eagle. What a sighting! The birds looked pretty relaxed allowing us to have very good views.
After enjoying the birds of prey we carried on towards the well known Sinkhole – Tawi Atayr. Our target there the Yemen Serin. En route we stopped for another Eastern Imperial Eagle. At the car park of Tawi Atayr we had two Arabian Wheatears and two Arabian Partridges, quite a few Cinnamon breasted Buntings and Ruppel’s Weaver. Another young Imperial Eagle flied passed really low allowing some flight shots. We were also lucky a pretty close Shining Sunbird which stayed around for some time allowing me to take quite a few pictures. See how many will be ok. Well we couldn’t see the Serin and decided to go.
We headed to Wadi Hanna for the Golden Winged Grossbeak because Bob couldn’t see it at Ayn Razat. En route we stopped for some pipits which proved to be Tree Pipits.
Wadi Hanna was pretty quiet. The Boabab trees there were a nice view themselves but the only birds we saw were two Bonneli’s Eagles. We carried on Mirbat to do some seawatching although it was not the best time of the day. The only thing we saw there was an Osprey.
It was time to make our way to the north. We have a long way back so it would be sensible to break up the journey. We headed to Ash Shuwaymiyyah where we planned to spend the night.
En route we found some great places for waterbirds one of which proved particularly productive. In addition to the Sooty Gulls we had our first for the trip Red-necked Phalarope. It let me approach it down to 4 m so at certain occasions i even had to back off to get it well in the frame. Even more pleasant was a Green sea turtle which was in the sea. That was really nice. When planning this trip I wanted to go to a special reserve to see this turtle and there it was.
Further along we had some spectacular scenery. Sheer cliffs more than a 100m high were coming down from the mountains. We drove up a plateau with amazing views. We got stopped by local police that had nothing else to do but chat the foreigners. Mind you they weren’t really speaking any English so we left fairly quickly.
We arrived in the small town called Ash Shuaymiyyah just before sunset. Managed to find a small motel which is a bit rough but it will do for the night. Shower was good. We had a cheap dinner in a local Pakistani restaurant and we called it a day.
Although it was a bird photography day, the checklist for the day ended at 55 species for the day and 164 for the trip so far.